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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

330                 First Principles

questions that have got beyond words and consciousness.
To apply logic here is as fatuous as to disregard it in cases
where it is applicable. The difficulty lies, as it always does,
on the border lines between the respective spheres of influence.

Logic and Faith

Logic is like the sword—those who appeal to it shall
perish by it. Faith is appealing to the living God, and
one may perish by that too, but somehow one would rather
perish that way than the other, and one has got to perish
sooner or later.

Common Sense and Philosophy

The voices of common sense and of high philosophy some-
times cross; but common sense is the unalterable canto
fenno and philosophy is the variable counterpoint.

First Principles

It is said we can build no superstructure without a founda-
tion of unshakable principles. There are no such principles.
Or, if there be any, they are beyond our reach—we cannot
fathom them; therefore, qua us, they have no existence,
for there is no other <( is not " than inconceivableness by our-
selves. There is one thing certain, namely, that we can have
nothing certain ; therefore it is not certain that we can have
nothing certain. We are as men who will insist on looking
over the brink of a precipice; some few can gaze into the
abyss below without losing their heads, but most men will
grow dizzy and fall. The only thing to do is to glance at the
chaos on which our thoughts are founded, recognise that it
is a chaos and that, in the nature of things, no theoretically
firm ground is even conceivable, and then to turn aside with
the disgust, fear and horror of one who has been looking into
his own entrails.

Even Euclid cannot lay a demonstrable premise, he re-
quires postulates and axioms which transcend demonstration
and without which he can do nothing. His superstructure is
demonstration, his ground is faith. And so his ultima ratio